Trip Details




Jason McLees

Pack Weight


Attempted Route

Fisher Chimneys 

Other Attempts

(2) (3)


Climb Description

Jason and I drove to the mountain on the 14th and had a hard nights sleep on the concrete parking lot of the ski lodge.  Somehow I think an irregular rock bed would have been more comfortable.  This only helped in getting us up before the sun.
After we packed up and locked the leftover gear in the cab of the truck, we headed off toward Lake Ann.  It was a gorgeous day and we were jazzed and armed with a ten year old route description and a lot of hope, we were ready to attack.  After passing the lake, the real climbing began.  The trail began to disappear as we traversed a nasty scree slope following a trail of carnes to the bottom of the Fisher Chimney system.
A little hard to see, but the Fisher Chimney system is one of the most beautiful and rewarding routes I've ever done.  Although rather steep, there are only a few places where you feel exposed to fall.  The rocks are tight for the most part and projectile hazard is low.  Keeping on course is a challenge though since there are actually very few signs of travel and the route seems to diverge at every opportunity.  We found that 'up', is generally the direction that will keep you on route.  A very exhilarating section.
The view from the top of the chimneys is breathtaking... or maybe it was the climb I'm not sure.  But you get a view of Baker from an angle that most people never see.  The crater is between Colfax Peak on the left and the summit dome.  The Cock's Comb is rock ridge along the rightward horizon.  That's the route that Eric and I took a couple of years ago (see Baker #1). 
From the top of the chimney's it was a short climb to the base of Whinney's slide.  From what we read, this is the crux of the climb.  Being so late in the season, the glacier was down to solid ice.  This made crevasse finding a no-brainier, but a slip here and there would be no self arrest. 

We parked there for a bit of lunch and watched a couple of other climbers as they made their way down the steepest section.  They were using ice screws and were setting up anchors to belay each other as they leap frogged their way down.  At one point the top guy slipped and slid out of control right past his partner.  Lucky for him he wasn't too far above and the anchor held and the belay worked.  But I was shocked at how much speed he picked up in such a short time.  Note to self:  Bring ice screws.

We decided to go to the left of where the other climbers were as it looked a little less steep there.  Jason wasn't too happy about the idea but strapped on his crampons nonetheless.  We played out extra rope between us and I started up.  finding a route between the open crevasses was interesting.  Although nobody wanted to fall into a crevasse, the fact was that if we lost our balance, a short fall into a crevasse was a lot better than a long tumbling slide to the bottom of the glacier.  I kept this in mind as I weaved a path through the crevasse filed. 

I made my way up the steepest section, toeing with my front points into solid ice.  First time for everything.  Just as the slope in front of me started showing signs of easing, the ice under Jason's feet was just starting to get nasty.  I was nearly there, when Jason announced that he had gone as far as he was going to.  I turned and looked to see him standing on a finger of ice between two crevasses that was no wider than his head (no harder either).  I didn't argue.  We reversed course and headed back down.  The only thing more challenging than climbing up that slope, was down climbing it.  After I got through the tricky stuff, I whipped out the camera and snapped this shot.

I'm not sure if Jason was mad at me for bringing him, or mad at himself for turning us around.  I was actually okay with it.  It was a beautiful day and what we'd seen of the mountain to this point was spectacular.
Well... given that we'd planned on climbing all day, we suddenly found ourselves with a lot of time to spend and no where to go.  So we decided to set up the rope and practice some rappelling techniques.  There was a spectacular cliff that determined the southern edge of Whinney's, if we could only get up there!  We left our packs at the bottom and worked our way back around to the Chimney side of the rock structure.  The climb up was exciting and once on top, we could see an easy traverse that could lead us all the way to the top of Whinney's slide!  There was only one short section that didn't have any foot holds, but the knife edge along the top was more than enough for a solid layback move that did the trick.

From here, the route to Hell's Highway lay out before us (behind me in the photo).  Then it was my turn to be disappointed.  Had we not left our packs below, we could have continued the climb having bypassed Whinney's Slide.  But now, there wouldn't be time to climb back down, get our packs and climb back up.  At least that was our excuse.

But still.  It was most beautiful.

After goofing off for a while, we made our way back to the cliff, rappelled down to our packs and hiked out.